02 August 2006


Lobster was always a big part of the rural Maine part of my upbringing. I don't eat 'em, but I used to enjoy playing with them on the porch before they met their steamy deaths in the big stockpot. I was tickled to learn something new today about lobsters: they come in all sorts of funky colors.

This week, two fishermen caught yellow lobsters in different parts of Maine. Yellow lobsters are extremely rare, about 1 in 30 million. One of the two fishermen plans to return his yellow lobster to the sea in a week or so, saying he'd like to give someone else the opportunity to make such an exciting catch.

Last month, a fisherman caught a two-toned lobster in Dyer Bay, near Bar Harbor. In this case it is a genetic mutation, though lobsters can have unusually colored shells (rather than the usual brown) due to diet.

Blue lobsters, still rare though more common than yellow or red (1 in one million), occur when the blue pigmentation in the carapace is overexpressed. Albino lobsters occur when all pigmentation is missing. Shades of red and yellow are due to underexpression of blue pigmentation. More pictures of colorful lobsters here.

All lobsters, regardless of their live color, turn red when they are cooked, because the heat releases the red pigmentation in the shell but not the other colors. Albino lobsters are the exception to this rule, since they have no red pigmentation to begin with - they stay the same color when they are cooked.

The annual five-day lobster festival in Rockland, Maine begins today.

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